OP-REGEN 'New Year, New Street' Campaign
OP-REGEN Volunteer, Bjorn, tells us more about his team's work at Canada Street
As part of WWTW’s OP-REGEN Project, volunteers are encouraged to come together to help regenerate their local community. The project is currently being trialled in Manchester, Gateshead and Glasgow. OP-REGEN has just launched the ‘New Year, New Street’ campaign. WWTW beneficiary and OP-REGEN volunteer captain Bjorn tells us first-hand why he became involved in the campaign.
My name is Bjorn, I am a third-year Psychology student and I live in the Veterans’ Village in Manchester. I served in the British army for 10 years. I was introduced to OP-REGEN by WWTW’s North West Director, Gary Lamb during WWTW’s Walking Home for Christmas event in December 2019. I attended the launch of OP-REGEN in February 2020 and was blown away by the vision. I became a volunteer because I was really interested in what OP-REGEN does, I have volunteered with Walking With The Wounded on many occasions so I felt it was the natural thing for me to step up from being a regular volunteer to spear head an event or two. Part of my degree is undertaking a work placement in my third year and I felt that OP-REGEN would be best suited for this as gives me an insight to what the working day would entail and I will gain the necessary soft skills which are paramount for a human-centred working environment.
It is imperative that the community spirit is ignited once again. A sense of pride has returned to the Veterans’ Village. Over the course of 12 to 18 months, the morale had taken a nosedive. Fly tipping started to occur more frequently, and it almost seemed as though the community had lost its identity. The Great British September clean, campaigned by Keep Britain Tidy coincided with the vision of OP-REGEN, regenerating Canada and New Street in Manchester. On the 18th September 2020, OP- REGEN and Keep Manchester Tidy launched the event, which turned a huge success with members from OP-REGEN volunteers partaking and a few other agencies, along with members from the community. It was heart warming to see so many people from the community participate, including their children. A sense of pride was quite noticeable all round. The event has somewhat brought the community closer, with everybody still maintaining the cleanliness of the street, along with members looking forward to the next event.
The feedback received from everybody was positive. We had individuals stating how great it was for their mental health, for their physical wellbeing and most importantly, and some noted that the event was the first time any of them spoken to each other.
To keep the momentum going, the next planned event will be held on the 21st October 2020. This will incorporate the planting of trees and flowers in planters and another litter pick. The vision is to conduct a litter pick at least once a month to ensure that the Veterans’ Village maintains its beautiful identity and to keep the community proud to be a part of it.
Although OP-REGEN is doing really well, we always welcome any additional help. As we live in an area where there are quite a few children, it will be beneficial to do some programmes relating to drug and alcohol awareness as substance abuse has almost become normal, with the next generation being more and more exposed to this.
The work that has been put in by OP-REGEN and the members of the community has seen a sense of pride reinstated into the village. Keeping the momentum going will be key to making it a place of tranquillity and desire. After all, it is a place that is home to those that have served.
For more information, visit: www.walkingwiththewounded.org.uk